A long while back, I asked friends for prompts for drabbles (very short short stories) as a writing exercise.
One replied, “18-wheeler drivers who are monkeys.”
And thus, “Driving for Peanuts” was born.
You can hear the inestimable Tina Connolly reading it here: Toasted Cake #23
If you’d like to read it, too, here it is, “Driving for Peanuts”:
It took four of them to drive the rig, plus Bobo to steer.
Petey handled the clutch, Lulu was on brakes and gas, Jojo took care of shifting gears, and Alice ran relief for the other three and mostly told them what to do. Bobo steered, of course, since he had enough upper-body strength to turn the wheel, and with the booster seat could see over the dash. He was a chimp, but the rest of the crew tried not to hold it against him.
Alice worked her crew hard but fair. It kept everyone sharp and contributing. As long as they didn’t do fruit runs, everyone was well-behaved, and they could always count on their cuteness factor to help when they pulled into stations to fill up or buy some more nuts. Even human truckers who resented simian competition smiled and went all “aw, cute monkeys” when Lulu chittered at them and waved her tail flirtatiously, and before they knew it, they were helping the crew pump gas.
It helped that they usually only took short runs, all in-state and just a few hours long. It wasn’t big money, but it kept the truck running. The short runs were fun. Her crew could keep it together that long. Alice didn’t want a repeat of the fiasco that resulted from their only interstate haul. Bobo hadn’t even picked a stray nit off of them for weeks after that, and she didn’t blame him. Petey could be a shit sometimes, and it took almost as long to get the smell out of the cab, too.
She liked that the four of them, plus Bobo, could do this job. It beat working the circus gigs, and Alice still had nightmares about the lab they’d been in when they were babies. There was freedom now, and she ran a good crew.